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Kroger renovating distribution center for robotics

A grocery titan is substantially expanding the size and capabilities of a major distribution center in Ohio.

The Kroger Co. is partnering with intelligent automation technology provider Knapp to add 130,000-sq.-ft. of space and a new robotic fulfillment system to its existing Great Lakes Distribution Center in Delaware, Ohio. Renovations to the facility, which opened in 2003 and currently services 115 stores in central and northwest Ohio, as well as southeast Michigan and the Ohio River Valley region, are expected to be complete by the end of summer 2021.

The site will use a combination of Knapp order, storage and retrieval (OSR) shuttles that deliver grocery cases in an exact sequence to robotic palletizers. 

Kroger has been focusing on innovation in its distribution centers for several years. Since 2018, the company has been developing an automated “customer fulfillment center” (CFC) model with global online grocery retailer Ocado. Two CFCs are currently operational in Florida and Ohio, and Kroger plans to open 20 across the country in the next few years.

"Kroger's investment in Knapp's latest technology allows the Great Lakes distribution center to improve efficiency in replenishing our stores, enabling us to quickly deliver fresh food to our customers. The expansion of the facility is part of the ongoing transformation of our supply chain network, and this project will more than double our capacity while delivering innovation and scalability that can grow with demand. This collaborative project will allow us to better serve customers in the region."

"The technology investment in the Great Lakes distribution center has been designed to add a new level of flexibility to the Kroger supply chain network and deliver a resilient approach to investments in automation," said Knapp CEO Josef Mentzer.

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